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Thomas J. Norton

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 12, 2011 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $9,999 At A Glance: Deep, rich blacks • Accurate color • 3D-to-2D conversion • improved brightness and contrast

3D Gets Big

It seems like only yesterday that I reviewed Sony’s VPL-VW85 projector, but it was a year and a half ago (Home Theater, November 2009). Sony launches a new flagship home theater projector every year at the September CEDIA EXPO, and 2010 was no exception.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 03, 2011 5 comments
I was so ready to ignore the British royal wedding. I had zero interest. So when I set my PVR to record one of the interminable PBS reruns of the five-hour HD event, I told myself I was doing it just in case. Maybe someone would trip over the bridal train and send the whole entourage tumbling like a row of dominoes. That would be historic. Of course, getting a choice clip or two of video out of the closed world of the PVR is a puzzle I haven't yet solved—including the Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction from a few years back that has now sadly succumbed to the eventual fate awaiting all our precious ones and zeros: Erased from existence.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 28, 2011 0 comments
When I read Stephen Beney's questions regarding the best way to connect his Oppo BDP-95 player to his Denon AVR-4308CI receiver and Scott Wilkinson's reply, I thought Scott's advice was good. But there are some other points I want to make about how to hook up that player for the best audio results—points that could apply to any universal disc player with claims of superior audio quality.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 28, 2011 0 comments
Price: $29,995 At A Glance: Outstanding resolution and color • Bright—even on a 10-foot screen • Black level and contrast well short of cutting edge

DLP Hangs Tough

Digital Light Processing (DLP) may have jump-started the whole digital display revolution in the late 1990s, but to the consumer, the technology might look like it’s fallen on hard times. Only one major HDTV manufacturer—Mitsubishi—now makes DLP rear projectors. And since DLP is a projection technology, there are no DLP sets that can project an image across a distance of 2 inches or less to compete with today’s popular flat panels.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 26, 2011 2 comments
Price: $2,199 At A Glance: Image pops with room lights on • Minimizes room reflections with lights off • Fixed frame—no retractable version

Lighten Up

Many of us will tolerate a projection system that requires a totally darkened room for movie watching. But when other family matters make this impossible, or when your buddies come over on a Sunday afternoon for the big game, how many of us are willing to totally blacken the room and leave everyone to stumble around in the dark?

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 25, 2011 1 comments
Getting the most out of your big-screen experience.

When it comes to setting up a great video projection system in your home theater, the screen is nearly as important as the projector. A white wall or sheet simply won’t do, except in a pinch as a temporary stopgap. There’s no substitute for the real thing.

But choosing the right real thing requires research, together with examination of your individual needs. How tightly can you control the room lighting? How big do you want the image to be? What shape screen do you want—that is, what aspect ratio—and do you want a screen that can mask off the unused portions when the source is a different aspect? Can the screen have a fixed frame, or do you want it to be retractable? How much gain should the screen have? Which screen will best match your projector? And last but not least, how will 3D affect all of these other considerations?

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 18, 2011 0 comments
Putting the theater in home theater.

It wasn’t so long ago—less than 10 years, in fact—that video projection in the home meant a bulky CRT projector that often weighed 200-plus pounds and took hours to set up. It used three separate CRTs, one each for red, green, and blue, which had to be precisely converged and focused on site. Once the setup was complete, you couldn’t move the projector without risking a need to repeat the entire operation. The CRTs also tended to drift, so periodic reconvergence was needed, either by the dealer or by a tech-savvy owner. It was complicated and expensive. Once you threw the cost of the then-expensive video scalers (needed by the day’s standard-definition sources) into the mix, the proposition could easily run into six-figure prices. But the best of these CRT setups were truly amazing—even in standard definition.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 22, 2011 0 comments
Price: $6,999 At A Glance: Refined, engaging picture • Compromised LED dynamic edge lighting • 3D resolution not full HD (at press time)

Going Upscale With 3D

Unless you’re a regular reader and recall our review of the Lucidium NVU55FX5LS HDTV (Home Theater, April 2010), you may not have heard of NuVision. The company keeps a relatively low profile in an attempt to build a reputation as a connoisseur brand. It sells primarily through custom installation channels, and all of its products come with a two-year warranty and a two-day on-site, nationwide service program.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 16, 2011 2 comments
Price: $2,100 (3D glasses: $150/pair) At A Glance: THX certified for 2D • Accurate color and superb resolution • Near reference-level blacks and shadow detail

Deep Impact

Plasmas have gotten a bum rap in the market for all sorts of nutty reasons. They break when shaken? No, not unless you’re talking about dropping them off the delivery truck, or them falling off the wall in an 8.0 trembler. In either case, you can kiss any flat-panel set goodbye. They leak plasma gas and need to be recharged frequently? A big-box retailer reportedly started this rumor several years ago, apparently in an effort to sell a special power conditioner that was said to eliminate the need for regular plasma transfusions.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 10, 2011 0 comments
Panasonic's name may evoke sound, but its reputation is built on video. Nevertheless, the company does produce audio products, though its U.S. offerings in that space differ from those of many Asian manufacturers. It has never been a major player here in AV receivers or stand-alone speaker systems, but instead puts most of its efforts into home theaters in a box (HTiBs), compact one-piece stereo systems, and related all-in-one packages. Panasonic's new 2011 introductions in these categories include a single sound bar (the fully-powered, $400 SC-HTB520, which includes a wireless subwoofer), four compact stereo systems, and three new Blu-ray HTiBs with 3D capability. Four new stand-alone Blu-ray players were also launched.

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